Ag Today August 28, 2019

Import limits, effects of swine fever hit pork prices in China [Wall Street Journal]

Pork prices in China have surged to new highs in the past two weeks, adding pressure on a government trying to contain food-price inflation during the trade war with the U.S. Prices of the mainstay—used in dishes such as lunchtime dumplings and spicy mapo tofu—have risen 18% in China since the week ended Aug. 9 and are up more than 50% in the past year. The average price of pork, excluding offal,  in the week ended Aug. 23 was 31.77 yuan a kilogram ($2.02 a pound), according to data from China’s Ministry of Commerce. African swine fever has decimated pork supplies. China’s pig herd had fallen 32% on year in July, according to data released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Analysts expect 2019 production could fall as much as 30% and drop further in 2020….Pork prices and increases in the cost of vegetables were already the main driver of a 2.8% rise in the consumer-price index in July, the fastest pace in 18 months….At the same time, China’s tariffs on U.S. pork in the countries’ volley-for-volley trade war has increased prices of American meat.


In California, Trump’s trade war threatens permanent damage to some agriculture markets [USA TODAY]

Dale Edson has lived and worked on her family farm — an orchard in Butte County north of Sacramento — for most of her 77 years. But these days, she said, costs are too high to keep it going. She reluctantly put her land up for sale this year. “The land here is loam soil,” she said with a sigh. “You throw anything out there and it will grow. It is wonderful soil, and I just hate to see houses built on it. But you just can’t make a living.”…As tensions and tariffs continue to escalate with China, one of the biggest battles being fought in the trade war is on U.S. soil. Agriculture has been a major target and farmers are feeling the pain from the financial feud that has now stretched over a year and a half. California farmers like Edson, who already were grappling with labor shortages, higher costs, and slimmer margins, are among those bearing the brunt of the international impasse. The state produces roughly 15% of the country’s agricultural value, and, before the tariffs started taking a toll, exported just under $21 billion in value annually.


Trump pushes to allow new logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest [Washington Post]

President Trump has instructed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to exempt Alaska’s 16.7-million-acre Tongass National Forest from logging restrictions imposed nearly 20 years ago, according to three people briefed on the issue, after privately discussing the matter with the state’s governor aboard Air Force One. The move would affect more than half of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, opening it to potential logging, energy and mining projects. It would undercut a sweeping Clinton administration policy known as the “roadless rule,” which has survived a decades-long legal assault. Trump has taken a personal interest in “forest management,” a term he told a group of lawmakers last year he has “redefined” since taking office….Trump’s decision to weigh in, at a time when Forest Service officials had planned much more modest changes to managing the agency’s single largest holding, revives a battle that the previous administration had aimed to settle.


Opinion: California needs to continue to set ambitious climate change goals. But let’s do our homework, too [McClatchy News Service]

These days, all eyes are on California. Our lawmakers frequently make bold changes to address the most pressing issues of our time. In a state that’s home to the innovators of Silicon Valley and the farmers of the Central Valley, we are often on the forefront when it comes to the boundaries we’re willing to push and the policy risks we’re willing to take. This attention on us means we have to get it right. Nowhere is our leadership more evident than with what we’ve done on climate change. California has set an ambitious goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In 2015, we required that 50 percent of all electricity would need to come from renewable sources by 2030. Just three years later, we upped that deadline to 2025, while also adding a 60 percent deadline of 2030 and a 100 percent zero-carbon electricity deadline of 2045. We’re doubling the energy efficiency of existing buildings and allowing greater investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. These rules are necessary to combat the urgent threat of climate change. But they are also some of the most aggressive in the country, and will require a serious disruption of the status quo.


Editorial: Trump betting the farms on trade war [San Francisco Chronicle]

For all President Trump’s cheap flattery of the heartland and its “great Patriot Farmers,” his administration is proving remarkably expensive for American agriculture. The impact of the president’s escalating trade war with China has been particularly stark for the sector, which saw the value of exports to China plummet by more than half according to the most recently available federal data, from $19.5 billion in 2017 to $9.1 billion last year. This is in a trade that had grown eightfold since 2000. The decline continued through the first half of this year, with agricultural exports to China $1.3 billion off last year’s steeply diminished level.


Davis company raises $7.5M for automated strawberry picker [Sacramento Business Journal]

Davis-based mechanical strawberry harvesting equipment company Advanced Farm Technologies Inc. raised $7.5 million in a round of venture capital led by Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley. The Series A funding round included investments from Sacramento’s Impact Venture Capital, as well as Kubota Corp. and Catapult Ventures, said Kyle Cobb, chief financial officer of Advanced Farm Technologies. Two of the investors, Yamaha and Kubota, are both ag equipment manufacturers. This most recent round of funding was heavily over-subscribed, with more investors wanting to invest than the company was seeking, said Jack Crawford Jr., founding general partner with Impact, which was founded in Sacramento and is now based in Burlingame with a Sacramento office.